Wednesday, August 26, 2009


And on a lighter note, here's my cutie:

It's a double-brag because I created the child and my mother created the outfit. We took this picture on her 3rd birthday, which was earlier this month.

Gosh, I can't believe my baby is three! And Jim and I have been married for four years now. Wow. (Incidentally, Elizabeth was born the day before our first anniversary. It was not the way I had imagined spending that day, but it wasn't too bad. Just a little exhausted and in a little bit of pain. Definitely felt lightning-struck, though.)

City of Thieves

I just finished reading a fantastic novel about the siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg). How many of you know that during WWII, Leningrad was under siege for 900 days? Can you imagine? People were so hungry that they boiled the glue from book bindings down and made "Library Candy." I knew about the siege, I even visited the memorial in St. Petersburg when I was there in 2001, but I didn't understand, not fully, what had happened. It had been so black-and-white before. I knew the facts, two-dimensionally imagined the horrors and tragedies that transpired, but I didn't feel it. It wasn't until I read this book that I died a little inside. The book, City of Thieves, by David Benioff, is dark, humorous, and beautiful (not to mention horrific and tense).

It is everything I want my first novel, Rohana, to be like. It is the first novel I have read since I began writing Rohana that showed me exactly what I wanted to achieve, exactly how I wanted to affect my readers. In my book, Rohana, the main character, witnesses horror to a degree most of us cannot even imagine, just as the people of Leningrad (and, well, most of Europe) experienced during WWII.

I lay in bed last night, trying to fall asleep, trying to banish the image of the last scene I had just read--and yet, I didn't want to forget it. The scene was so brutal, so inhuman, that I wanted to see it and feel it just as the main character, Lev, did. I wanted to be there for him, to help him get through it. Does that make any sense? Lev (and the other characters) became real enough for me that I wanted to absorb as much of the horror as I could so that he could be protected.

I want my readers to feel that way about Rohana. I want them to care for her and see both the brutality and the beauty of humanity through her eyes. I want my readers to want to see more, and yet want to put blinders on her so that she won't see more.

One thing about David Benioff's writing that I'd like everyone to experience is the lyricism, the poetry. The descriptions truly put you there, then.

Rohana needs a massive amount of revision to get it even close to City of Thieves.

(BTW, this is easily my favorite book of the year.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New York, How I Love Thee

Yes, it's true. I love New York. I love Syracuse. The streets are lines with greenery, flowers abound, the neighbors are kind and interesting, and we have a large porch that I can sit on and write late into the evening (with a massing number of mosquitos).

We are not yet unpacked, but things are getting situated. Jim is nearly ready to start school, and Elizabeth is excited about starting preschool. Henry is just excited to be alive (plus, he's taking steps now, and believes he should be walking already). I am settling down and getting ready to start writing FOR REAL. I've got to finish this first draft or else!

Tonight was my first night back at work. I made myself some coffee, escaped to the front porch with my laptop, a bowl of mint ice cream, and a notebook, and sketched out plot ideas. I couldn't get right back into the story at first, since it had been ages since I'd taken a peek, but I was able to wrap my mind about it a little. No actual writing was completed tonight, but I'm getting ready to jump back into that soon. SOON.

I'm also thinking about applying for Syracuse University's MFA in Creative Writing program for next year. If I got accepted, I think it includes a TA position, which would mean a small stipend and a waiving of tuition, so it'd be like making a tiny salary while getting my MFA. Better than working at Starbucks to help out with our bills, right? Mostly, I just might learn a little bit more about writing. Maybe. But I'm a little apprehensive---what if they're too high-brow? What if they're too literary? My writing style is a bit literary, but it's not snooty (I hope). I do, afterall, want to get gasp! published.

Ok. The mosquitos are taking over the porch. I must retreat now or find myself a blood donor.